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Without it we have nothing!  As I began to put together the words that would make up this piece, I didn’t know exactly what it was I was going to say or even how I would say it. However, after a plethora of prayer & a maelstrom of meditation, I began to believe that I would be able come up with something that, by a recent experience, would indeed give someone else a bit of something which I had been completely out of for so long.

After having distanced myself from my father through irresponsibility, irrationality and inescapable fear, I was unable to get/cause myself to reconnect with a man whom I admire a great deal, love very much and have disappointed more than my share. I felt as though I had begun to exist within a circle of light that, as time passed, began to grow even darker and ever smaller. I felt like there wasn’t any and there was little chance of it there ever being any as the days became weeks, months, years and eventually decades.

Fear frolicked in my “magnifying mind” as I created scenario after scenario of what his reaction might be, words he might say and how, if at all I would be able to handle myself after doing something I’ve needed/wanted to for so long now. (As if I was handling it well at all.)  LOL

Daily a desire to re-establish a contact burned within me. Despite this, however, I remained unable (unwilling,) to bring myself to initiate contact with the man who brought me into this world (with my mother’s help). Friends and relatives would suggest that I just pick up the phone (the 100 lb. one) and call him.

My Mom (divorced 40 yrs.) would always ask me if I had called him. More than once I had told her I planned on calling him as soon as I was finished talking with her. (Actions speak louder than words) Yet she too had been left wondering about me for almost two years and knew that she’d believe it IF she SAW it!

It seems rather ironic to me that I had volunteered for this “assignment” (writing this – not calling him) when in fact I had little of it but knew there was some so I agreed to do my best at getting it done.

Christmas Day, at about two o’clock, I called my Mom to wish her a Merry X-Mas and to ask her if she had gotten the poem I had sent via e-mail to her earlier that day. I’d been unable to get and send her even a card so I did my best at putting my love for her into words and BELIEVED she’d appreciate it. She, after some resuscitation of her “dinosaur” tablet, said she thought it was there and after a short time she read it aloud back to me. After she was done reading it she said “Thank you it’s adorable. Have you called your father yet?”

Once again I told her that I planned to (remember God shows his sense of humor when I make plans) as soon as we finished our talk.

This time however was different. I DID CALL!!! Lo and behold he even answered this time. I’d called him a few weeks earlier (believe it or not), and come to find out he was out of the country. Here I thought he just didn’t want to speak with me (he would often tell me “that’s what you get for doing your own thinking).

After wishing him a Merry X-Mas and telling him how much I loved him I asked him how the weather was in Huntington Beach on Christmas. He said he didn’t know ’cause he was out at his brother’s house in WVC. I asked him if he had the means to come pick me up from Fellowship Hall and he said yes!  WOW!

After enduring more than twenty years of being afraid to tell my own Dad that I was in fact gay he began to tell me that his uncle “PAT-sy” was also gay. He said he didn’t give a damn if I was gay, straight or what have you. His ONLY concern was that I was happy being who I really was!

Wow! What a relief! Just as it was as I first came into A.A. I had little of it if any, now by the grace of God I have more HOPE than ever.

I am an alcoholic who happens to be gay & when ANYONE anywhere reaches out for help I want the hand of A.A. to be there for that I am responsible.

Alan B.



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A drunk is lying on a bed in a hospital.

A doctor is sitting beside the bed.

The drunk wails in earnest, “…a wave of depression came over me. I realized that I was powerless, hopeless, that I couldn’t help myself, and that nobody else could help me. I was in black despair. And in the midst of this, I remembered about this God business…and I rose up in bed and said, ‘If there be a God, let him show himself now!’ Tell me doctor. Am I insane, or not?”

Fortunately for Bill, and A.A., the doctor was Dr. Silkworth. Very possibly, the future of A.A. hung on the doctor’s answer to that question. “These people do not want to do the things they do. They drink compulsively, against their will.” One of the early drunks whom Dr. Silkworth treated, a big husky six-foot man, dropped to his knees, tears streaming down his face, and begged for a drink. “I said to myself then and there, this is not just a vice or habit. This is compulsion, this is pathological craving, this is a disease!”

It was there that Dr. Silkworth made the first of his indispensable contributions to A.A. He knew, by insight, what no amount of medical training can give a man; that what had happened to Bill was real, and important.

“I don’t know what you’ve got,” he told Bill, “but whatever it is, hang on to it. You are not insane. And you may already have the answer to your problem.”

The encouragement of the man of science, as much as the spiritual experience itself, started A.A. on its way. Although he died on March 22nd, 1951, Dr. Silkworth is yet with us. Because of his profound personal modesty, disarming gentleness, his unassuming skill, he accomplished his daily miracles of medical and spiritual healing, which continue in every room where two drunks meet. He was a prodigious and relentless worker, having spoken with over 51,000 alcoholics. This gentle doctor, with his white hair and soft blue eyes, was a man of immense personal courage. He went much farther than merely encouraging Bill’s faith in his spiritual experience; he saw to it that Bill was permitted to come back into Towns Hospital to share his discovery with other alcoholics.

Today, when “carrying the message to others” has become a very respectable part of an effective program, it is easy to forget that carrying the message undoubtedly found its genesis in Dr. Silkworth’s gentle hands.

Our technique has been mellowed and refined by the wisdom of experience. We know that the blinding light and overwhelming rush of God-consciousness are not necessary; that they are indeed very rare phenomena and the great majority of recoveries among us are of the much less spectacular, and lean toward the more educational kind.

Why did he do it?

The answer to that is the answer to Dr. Silkworth’s whole career: he loved drunks. Early in his career, at a time when alcoholism was almost universally regarded as a willful and deliberate persistence in a nasty vice, Dr. Silkworth came to believe in the essential goodness of the alcoholic. He loved drunks. But there was nothing in the least degree fatuous or sentimental about that love. It was an almost surgical love. There was the warmest of light in those blue eyes, but still they could burn right through to the bitter core of any lie, any sham. He could see through egotism, self-pity and similar miseries we drunks so cleverly use to hide our fear and shame. All this he did, while insisting rigorously that recovery was possible only on a moral basis; “You cannot go two ways on a one-way street” he never preached, never denounced, nor criticized. He allowed you, rather, to make your own judgments. ”It’s a gift,” he would say.

Dr. Silkworth not only had vision, he gave vision.

Jeremy B.


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“Each group should be autonomous except in matters affecting other groups or A.A. as a whole”

Because of Tradition Four, each group can be autonomous. This means that each group has the right to run a meeting in any format that they wish and because of this if you explore enough meetings I believe you can find one that is right for you. Salt Lake has about 55 meeting a day of Alcoholics Anonymous. Most meetings I have attended are similar in format. Some meetings start off the meeting by having someone read from the big book, most meeting’s last an hour and then usually end by the group circling up and saying the serenity prayer. Although this is the majority basic format for most meetings I have attended, it hasn’t been for all.  I found comfort in a young peoples meeting. It was a meeting that majority of my friends did not like, but it was a meeting that I appreciated and attended regularly. The format was structured different than that of my home group, it was more rambunctious and I loved the free spirit of the young alcoholic. Just because a large portion of people I knew did not like this meeting did not mean it was harmful to AA as a whole.

My home group is a Twelve and Twelve step study meeting. The group reads through the Twelve and Twelve and then discusses the step that was just read. The second Friday of the month the group reads then discusses the tradition that corresponds with whatever month it is.

If you’re new to Alcoholics Anonymous and haven’t found a meeting that’s right for you, I encourage you to seek out other meetings. We have beginner meetings, traditions meetings, meditation meetings, young people meetings, discussion meetings, open meetings, speaker meetings etc. And if you still haven’t found a meeting that is right for you, I encourage you to take advantage of this tradition and start your own meeting, format it any way you’d like. But please keep in mind the rest of the traditions.

Damian T.



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For me, the Fourth Step is not just a list between the pages of a well-hidden journal, but the Fourth Step is a continuous, yet imperfect practice of empathy. Although I completed an exhaustively detailed Fourth Step, one that extended back to childhood events that had occurred before I had acquired the language to articulate them, and extended forward to fears of impossible and distant somedays, new fears and resentments—or seemingly new configurations thereof—arise on a daily basis.

In my Fourth Step, perennial patterns emerged, a consistent calculus of character defects, which are not the result of my uniquely dark soul, but are merely human. And, when resentments emerge, as they so often do, I must remember that other people, too, are human, and try to extend to them the same tolerance, pity, and patience that has been so cheerfully and gracefully granted to me. When I am actively practicing the Fourth Step, I need to look at other human beings, in all their fragility and fallibility, and think, “ You must feel a pain that I, too, have felt.” We are told that we must ask ourselves in what ways we are similar to others, where are we to blame? Although I might not identify with someone else’s particular action, or in other situations, I might feel blameless, I can identify with the entrenched insecurities, the deep emotional wounds, and the fears that gnarl us and cause us to make the mistakes that I once thought only I could make.

I remember reading my Fourth Step to my sponsor—in my backyard, at coffee shops, at her kitchen table—and what I remember most are not the things I told her, but how she gently empathized with nearly every item in my inventory. And how what once felt so sinister and secret no longer separated me from others. If she could identify with what seemed to be the worst parts of me, perhaps I could learn to identify with others. The cruelest thing I could ever do is to disregard the emotional complexities of others, thereby denying them their humanity. And to truly be human is to empathize with everyone, absolutely everyone.

Tasha M.


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Having been raised in a religious family, I was, like so many of us were, told what God was. After years of praying as I was educated to pray, of believing I should have visions and conversations with God, and failing to make that sort of contact with It (I’ll refrain from using gender related terms about God, as I don’t believe It’s a “He” or a “She”) I had given up on my premature spiritual quest and grew into an agnostic myself. A lover of all sciences, I was quick to point out the fallacies in other’s logic behind their faith and assert that evolution, the Big Bang Theory, etc… were the forces at work in the Universe, and not a Supreme Being. Ironically, my belief in God today finds no contention in my belief in evolution or science, but rather the opposite; these are forces, greater than myself, which I believe are part of the totality of God.

I wasted a lot of energy and time looking for visual and tangible evidence of God’s existence. I had certain false ideas about what God was, and required the type of miracles written about in the Old Testament for proof of God’s existence. I also fancied myself exceptional, and fantasized that I would be given super powers, like Herculean strength, or at least be fire proof, as I was a budding pyromaniac and amateur bombologist in my youth. Needless to say I was never given the ability to walk on water, or even part my glass of milk like young Moses in the Far Side cartoon.

Shortly after leaving my church and losing my feeble faith I found alcohol, and God wasn’t as important to me. I had found a power greater than myself which seemed to solve my problems. I could feel alcohol in my veins, giving me the sensation of power I’d always wanted. I felt like Samson. Both Samson and I were vulnerable to untrustworthy women (that’s another story), and sobering up was the equivalent of cutting off my hair, so drinking as often as possible had its attractions. I drank as much as I could, as often as I could, for as long as I could. My drinking lifestyle soon became problematic, leading to DUI’s, several arrests, ER visits, loss of jobs, failed relationships, and so on. I tried as many forms of solving the alcohol problem as I could invent. Most of them relied upon me and my insufficient will power. I feared asking for help, and didn’t see how AA, which I’d found in my few halfhearted attempts, unsuccessful.

My bottom was when I finally admitted the futility of my controlling alcohol and the imagined impossibility of living sober the rest of my life. I experienced a nervous breakdown and destroyed my Dad’s basement. The following morning I received a call from my Dad, who’d been out of town at the time I broke into his house, stole his booze, and had a big boy temper tantrum. He told me he wasn’t angry, but rather concerned, and that it was time for me to get help again. I was so relieved to hear that he was offering the help I couldn’t ask for. He was willing to pay for my treatment. That day I called a treatment center and made an appointment for what would be an extended stay. My last two days of drinking were somber times, and not the debaucherous farewell I’d romanticized about when I would finally say good bye to alcohol and grow up. I’d accepted my hopeless situation and was willing to do, at that time, whatever it took to get sober. I’m able to look back on my bottom and interpret it as the moment when I allowed God to enter my life. Something had changed in me that night I broke down. I was graced by God, in the form of unbearable self inflicted pain, to the point where I was then willing to do what was necessary. I caused all that pain, but God made it so it was too uncomfortable to live that way any longer. That was the force that got me sober. To me that is Grace.

The most important line to me in this chapter, and one of the most helpful to me in my growing spirituality, is that “God is either everything, or else He is nothing. God either is, or He isn’t.” This simplified my complicated way of looking at God, and summed it up perfectly. God is everything to me today. God is present in all life and matter, and is an unlimited force, available to me whenever I seek it. It’s taken me all of these past 2000 or so days of continuous sobriety for my conception of God to be what it is. I doubt I’ll ever understand what my Higher Power really is, but my faith continues to grow. I didn’t believe in God when I first came to AA. I had extreme difficulty in praying and practicing the suggestions and steps. I’m sober today, and I haven’t obsessed about alcohol in a very long time. I believe that God is responsible for this, as God is responsible for everything in my life today. I’m grateful to be a member of Alcoholics Anonymous, which was my first effective Higher Power, and I owe my life to this life changing program.

Patrick R.


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“Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends upon A.A. unity.”

“Each member of Alcoholics Anonymous is but a small part of a great whole. A.A. must continue to live or most of us will surely die. Hence our common welfare comes first. But individual welfare follows close afterward.”

Our whole A.A. program is securely founded on the principle of humility–that is to say, perspective. Which implies, among other things, that we relate ourselves rightly to God and to our fellows; that we each see ourselves as we really are–”a small part of a great whole.” Seeing our fellows thus, we shall enjoy group harmony. That is why A.A. Tradition can confidently state, “Our common welfare comes first.”

“Does this mean,” some will ask, “that in A.A. the individual doesn’t count too much? Is he to be swallowed up, dominated by the group?”

No, it doesn’t seem to work out that way. Perhaps there is no society on earth more solicitous of personal welfare, more careful to grant the individual the greatest possible liberty of belief and action. Alcoholics Anonymous has no “musts.” Few A.A. groups impose penalties on anyone for non-conformity. We do suggest, but we don’t discipline. Instead, compliance or non-compliance with any principle of A.A. is a matter for the conscience of the individual; he is the judge of his own conduct. Those words of old time, “Judge not,” we observe most literally.

“But,” some will argue, “if A.A. has no authority to govern its individual members or groups, how shall it ever be sure that the common welfare does come first? How is it possible to be governed without a government? If everyone can do as he pleases, how can you have aught but anarchy?”

The answer seems to be that we A.A.s cannot really do as we please, though there is no constituted human authority to restrain us. Actually, our common welfare is protected by powerful safeguards. The moment any action seriously threatens the common welfare, group opinion mobilizes to remind us; our conscience begins to complain. If one persists, he may become so disturbed as to get drunk; alcohol gives him a beating. Group opinion shows him that he is off the beam, his own conscience tells him that he is dead wrong, and, if he goes too far, Barleycorn brings him real conviction.

So it is we learn that in matters deeply affecting the group as a whole, “our common welfare comes first.” Rebellion ceases and cooperation begins because it must; we have disciplined ourselves.

Eventually, of course, we cooperate because we really wish to; we see that without substantial unity there can be no A.A., and that without A.A. there can be little lasting recovery for anyone. We gladly set aside personal ambitions whenever these might harm A.A. We humbly confess that we are but “a small part of a great whole.”


~ Bill W.


Reprinted with permission from
 The A.A. Grapevine, December, 1947



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Aside from the belligerent behavior and systematic sabotage of my life and everything within it which I held/hold dear, WHAT’S TO BE EMBARRASSED ABOUT? Surely there are millions upon millions whom probably in more ways than not are like me. I’ve heard some numbers, but I don’t know the source reference, so let’s just say I’m estimating. Nevertheless, here I am 25 years later, finally wizening up (if that’s not a stretch); sobering up. One day I’m drunk/drinking and the next day different. There’s nothing magic about it, really. I had given up waiting on the world to uphold some strange ethical code I had in my head/heart? I had all but given up my own. I gave up on myself and the world happily supported that. That cliché about looking yourself in the eye, as much as I hate clichés, well, that happened to me. The disgust I had for the image in the mirror that day, it literally made me sick to my stomach. Well, that, and the binge hangover, I’m sure.

I remembered when I was vibrant and dynamic. I could keep my own gaze with confidence. I commanded what I did rather than hoped for it. I had a plan (WHAT A LAUGH). Age may have played a factor in all this as well while I studied the deepening lines on my face (damn those clichés) and thought – How did I become this? Long had it been since I bothered to look at myself. The person I saw that day and the one I remembered were two different people. But one in the same. How confusing was that day, huh?
I had been to A.A. before. 15 years ago I received a month sobriety chip. I loved the program but then paid a visit to an old friend and returned to old habits. I told myself, if I could do it for 30 days, I could do it for an eternity, when I was ready (I said I loved the program, not grasped it).  After that point I still held A.A. in high regard, though only as a good alternative lifestyle, when the time came.
This time, my motivation wasn’t the rock bottom moment which I shared. At least not at first. It was simply for my most recent drunk buddy. “Sure,” I told myself, “it was him who got me into this stupor. I might be messed up, but damn, he fell asleep at the bar!” In my opinion, that was a line you just didn’t cross!
So I took it upon myself to be the good friend that got him some help.  Being his coworker also, I pestered him all day.  Eventually, he caved and agreed to a meeting with me that night. There were a few stipulations, but I figured if I could just get him there, A.A. could put the whammy on him. So I set it up.
I made sure to arrive a little early to tell the people how things needed to go in order to keep him (HA!) “Please don’t call any attention to us. We just want to observe.”, I instructed. I think we all know how that went. Chips, hugs and names were exchanged, and to make a long story short, he never went back but I did, and continue doing so. Eventually, even though he still suffers, I realized what had taken place, and thanked him for being a supportive friend by getting me through those doors.
It hasn’t been peaches ‘n’ cream by any means. I still get cravings and mood swings, have picked up and put down step 4 several times, am seeking another sponsor, and am trying to tough my way through these things labeled “Service Work”. I already see a monumental improvement across the board. I’m not drinking, going to meetings, and trying to carry the message. The one that works for me is: “If you want to continue drinking, that’s your business. If you want to STOP drinking, that’s OUR business.” And so it is.

Thanks for letting me share.

~ Danny S.
Salt Lake City, UT

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